Potential Seattle Mariners Target: Jose Bautista

 One of the few names being suggested that the Seattle Mariners have yet to be linked to by any of a variety of sources is Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista. On the surface there’s a match; the Blue Jays are believed to be in the market for young starting pitching, of which the M’s have, perhaps even to spare to some extent, and the Mariners need outfielders with offensive punch.

Bautista is signed through the 2015 season with a club option for 2016. Assuming that option is exercised, the 33-year-old would be owed $42 million over three seasons. Bautista was an MVP caliber player in 2010 and 2011 and while he’s dipped a bit in production — and health — the dollars he’s due is well worth it.

The Dominican native was given a clean bill of health in November after a hip problem during the season, but even in limited duty over the past two years he’s been worth 3.0 and 4.2 fWAR. He’s a solid-average corner outfield glove when healthy, has a plus throwing arm and it’s far from unreasonable to expect him to remain a 4-5 win player over the next couple of years. Sounds great, right?

There is one problem: the young arms the Mariners may have to spare — James Paxton and Brandon Maurer, for example — aren’t surefire 2014 rotation stalwarts, and the Jays have no reason to move Bautista for salary purposes. That may mean the only way the Mariners can acquire Bautista is by parting with top talent Taijuan Walker, whose name has been mentioned in trade talks for Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price.

It doesn’t appear the two clubs have had such discussions, either, tweets FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi. And who could blame the Jays for not wanting to deal Bautista?

We learned from former NFL head coach Herm Edwards that “you play to win the game” so the Jays, while they have a pitching need, do need to score runs, too, and perhaps GM Alex Anthopoulos isn’t too keen on a lineup highlighted by Colby Rasmus, Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion. Bautista is their anchor.

If Anthopoulos was to go out and land another hitter — which would probably have to be an outfielder to replace Bautista — then maybe the situation changes enough for Bautista to be put in play.

There is one other obstacle for the Mariners if Bautista becomes available: they certainly would not be the only team interested, and as stated above, they aren’t the perfect fit. Two clubs that might be? The Cleveland Indians, who are said to be open to discussing right-hander Justin Masterson, and their cross-state rival Cincinnati Reds, who may be open to moving Homer Bailey in the right scenario, and may not have much of a shot to retain the services of free agent Shin-Soo Choo.

The Texas Rangers may have interest, too, having lost Josh Hamilton a year ago and Nelson Cruz appears to be headed elsewhere this winter.

If GM Jack Zduriencik has the chance to move a non-Walker starting pitching prospect to headline a package to acquire Bautista, I imagine he’ll do so. It does seem like a long shot such an opportunity will present itself, however.

I will say this, though: I’d rather move Walker in a deal for a healthy Bautista than for Price. In the end, I’d hold off on making the 21-year-old right-hander available in either deal.

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Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at InsidethePark.com. He spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio prior to joining HERO Sports in July, 2016. Find Jason's Mariners podcast, Baseball Things, right here and follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider.

8 Comments

  1. I like the line up Davis, also heard on LL that Ruggiano may be available and would allow a nice platoon.

  2. sign Hart Cruz Suzuki and a starting P and trade for Rasmus.

    1)Miller SS
    2)Rasmus CF
    3)Cano 2B
    4)Cruz DH
    5)Seager 3B
    6)Hart RF
    7)Smoak 1B
    8)Suzuki/Zunino C
    9)Ackley LF

    Can put Hart at 1B/DH
    Cruz RF/DH
    Saunders RF/LF

    or go with Morales over Cruz

  3. We would still need a RF and DH so Hart plus Cruz or Kemp still available.Not sure we could get him extended though since hes only 1 year from FA. I think he would continue to improve on last years numbers and would rather get Rasmus way more than Gardner.

  4. I think we could easily land Rasmus or Gardner and they would be great additions. But we desperately need some righties. The only natural RH are Zunino and WFB. Smoak switches, sure, but that’s it. I really hope we are in on Corey Hart to DH, 1B and maybe some corner OF. What about Carlos Quentin or Cameron Maybin the Padres have an excess of OF’ers?

  5. Just read that Colby Rasmus is available for young pitching. He would be the perfect fit if we could extend him as part of the trade. They need a 2B also and like Nick Franklin so maybe a Franklin/Ramirez or Mauer deal could get it done. He has power speed and is one of the best defensive CF in the game.

  6. I don’t know if I’d label them “untouchable”, but I agree that those guys are potential cornerstone players that have already reached the big leagues. If you’re going to trade them, it needs to be a really good, young hitter.

    For Jose Bautista? Probably not. For someone like Jason Heyward? I’d discuss any of them. Especially Miller and Paxton. Walker and Zunino would be tough to lose.

  7. Walker, Paxton, Miller and Zunino are keepers and untouchable. Targeting Price, Kemp or anyone that would cost too many prospects is a no go for me.

  8. I hear you. I think you have to keep Walker.

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